‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business: the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything-even die.’
– Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan
There are those kinds of people who write a great book, they are indeed worthy of praise; then there are those kinds of people who live a life that would concoct a great book, they are worthy of admiration.
Among the former you will find David Oliver Relin, and the later, Greg Mortenson, the product of the two is this book that wins both my praise and admiration by stealing every part of my being away, Three Cups of Tea.
Albeit the powerful prose of Relin that gave voice to this surreal biography, I would choose to focus on the story in itself, and the man who I have eternally deemed my idol henceforth, Greg Mortenson.
I suppose this is one of those books you could never do justice to in a review (now that I sit to try and write about it, I finally understand the seemingly pallid review given by New York Review and Booklist to this magnanimous journey of both righteous cause and effect, but do not be fooled by that people, this one is more than just worth the read!), just believe me when I say that all the human beings on this earth HAVE to read this book because it is absolutely quintessential to humanity.
At the heart of too many problems that this earth faces today, lies the discursive lack of education, and no man (or woman) understood this better than Greg Mortenson, and no one ever, with a lone arm, did more to set straight this trajectory in as long as I can remember.
Mortenson built, in the past 15 years, over 100 schools and development projects in the malevolent nooks and crannies of the nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan which their own governments failed to reach out to, and feels so passionately about his moiling journey where he was often found desolate and hapless, that he says that just one educated girl from the Pakistani North Western village of Korphe is cause enough to justify 10 years of his toil and sacrifice halfway across the globe from his home.
Mortenson, after a failed attempt to climb the K2 (Karakoram) range of the Himalayas, known to be one of the most deadly ranges for mountaineers across the world, landed in a nearby village, where he was so touched by the care and love he received that he promised to build the village a school. Little did he know that it would be a promise that would change the course of the rest of his life, and he would be the founder of the Central Asia Institute (CAI) that would develop to be a force to reckon with.
In the next 3 posts I will talk about a few of the most pivotal arenas this book rummages by with incandescent simplicity and humility, but today I choose to look into the key highlight of the book, Education.
There are commodious doors that have steadfastly remained an insurmountable feat to thrust open, especially in developing and under developed nations across the planet. Doors such as those of poverty, patriarchy, fanaticism and their byproducts of unemployment, mortality, oppression, terrorism and such like the sum total of all of which is, unhappiness, pain and death.
In this book, Mortenson has taken up the time and again debated and philosophized ‘demons’ of the human race, and given a simple key with a beautiful philosophy. He believed in Education. Education being training young minds in the knowledge that they lack about science, math, language, history and geography and molding them each to open the doors of their nations plight, step across to the other side and collectively form a force strong enough to shove it down.
Mortenson was no colonialist. He did not for an instant try to bring the Western way of thought and education to the East, to change the people or their faith, he merely was a man willing to reach out to the best of what each community had to offer and provide them the means to actually offer it to their children.
Mortenson’s is a story of hope, not merely because of his mammoth accomplishments over the past 2 decades but because he brings to the table, with his third cup of tea, the knowledge that once you truly know an individual, the core of each race is goodness and wisdom, each community, each village had so much to give its descendants, all it took was one man willing to reach to their best and reinforce its importance over the time immemorial devils that humanity thought they would never rise over.
For more information on the CAI check out their website: https://www.ikat.org/